Capitol Updates

Friday, January 15, 2021

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  • Governor Threatens School Funding During Address      
  • Decision Made on Upcoming Legislative Hearing

Gov. Threatens School Funding During Address

Gov. Pete Ricketts, in his State of the State address on Thursday, said he hopes to impose harmful spending limits on Nebraska public schools and other local political subdivisions. Through Legislative Resolution 22CA, Ricketts said he seeks legislative approval to place a constitutional amendment on the 2022 General Election ballot. LR22CA would limit annual tax revenue increases by local schools, cities, counties and all other local government subdivisions to no more than 3% a year.  

In a pandemic-ridden year when teachers and students have struggled mightily, LR22CA is a hard slap in the face to educators and students across our state. There are not nearly enough counselors, mental health providers, substitute teachers and other resources needed in this pandemic. Despite those shortfalls, Ricketts seeks to impose punitive lids to further shortchange public school funding, with the ultimate result causing harm to our students.

Ricketts’ intent to further squeeze Nebraska public school funding comes even though:

  • Nebraska school districts are the only governmental subdivision in the state with both a spending limit (2.5%) and a property tax limit ($1.05 per $100 of valuation).
  • Deeper spending limits, facing near-unanimous opposition from the state’s K-12 public education family, were removed from the LB1107 property tax relief bill before it passed after a bitter battle last year.
  • Nebraska ranks 48th in the nation in state aid to K-12 schools. Additional state monies to K-12 schools would lower property tax rates.

The NSEA and other public education groups oppose these additional limits, noting that local school boards have budgeted conservatively and need some flexibility to react to unforeseen circumstances, including the worldwide pandemic and severe weather emergencies such as flooding.

The Governor and state senators need to hear from YOU now! Lawmakers need to know how hard teachers, students and parents have worked and how CUTS to education are not only unnecessary but will be harmful to our students.  Tell your story to lawmakers!

Decision Made on Upcoming Legislative Hearings

The most pressing question on Day 8 of the 2021 Legislative Session is related to the operation of the legislative calendar because of the continuing coronavirus pandemic. Speaker Mike Hilgers released memos Jan. 8 and Jan. 15 that outline the operational safeguards the Legislature has put in place to address COVID-19 and the structure of upcoming public committee hearings. Those two memos and other speaker memos can be found online here.

In the Friday, Jan. 15 memo, Hilgers explained he has decided to structure the session to accommodate all-day committee hearings starting on January 25th, with morning hearings beginning at 9:30 a.m. and afternoon hearings beginning at 1:30 p.m. Making this change will allow for both time and logistical flexibility for social distancing and public health accommodations. Traditionally, public committee hearings occur only in the afternoon, permitting floor debate during the morning hours.

In addition, Hilgers indicated that next week he will be announcing expanded options for citizens testifying and having their voices heard without having to sit in the committee hearing rooms all morning or afternoon. Also, he will be announcing new Covid protocols for public hearings that will be formulated with the input and agreement of the 14 standing committee chairs.